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DJ: Hey, H.M.! Thanks for stopping by to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, tell us a little about yourself?
H.M. Jones: Thanks for having me on your site. I’m an author dabbling in almost any genre I can get my hands on. I wrote Monochrome, which is a dark fantasy/magical realism book, but I also write a lot of short stories, and poetry and have a few such things published. “Tiptoe Through Time” and “The Light Storm of 2015” in the Masters of Time anthology are my most recent short stories. I like to blog about mental health awareness and other things—books, conventions, tattoos, mothering, etc. I’m a mother of two children and a college English and Cultural Sovereignty instructor at Northwest Indian College. I have many hobbies, including pulling in the canoe with my husband’s tribe, weaving and kickboxing.
DJ: What is Monochrome about?
H.M.: Primarily it’s about a physical representation of the mental state of depression, specifically postpartum depression as experienced by the main character, Abigail. However, it’s equally about finding the joy in one’s life in the face of trials. It’s about love, mourning, relationships and about the magic of everyday memories. It’s about seeing life not for what it could be but what it is. But it also has elements of magic, of alternate realities that really thrust the issues of the heroine into a different sphere.
DJ: Could you tell us a little more about Abigail, and Ishmael – the man she meets first upon entering Monochrome? What are some of the struggles and difficulties that each of these characters face?
H.M.: Abigail’s main struggle is within herself. She houses a lot of guilt. She wants to be nurturing, loving and caring, as a new mother, but she is suffering from severe anxiety and depression and she keeps falling short. But she also proves to be physically tough, persistent and hopeful. She is smart and she sees a lot of her passion for intellectual pursuits mirrored in the melancholy Ishmael. Ishmael deals disappointment by getting angry or drunk, something Abigail can relate to. He chose a path that makes him behave in an inhumane way, but he is extremely empathetic, which creates a lot of guilt on his part, as well. He had a really rough upbringing, but is smart, funny and caring despite his pain. He’s a good compliment to Abigail, who needs someone to see something beautiful in her, since she has a hard time seeing the good in herself. And vice versa, really. Abigail makes Ishmael understand his own strengths.
DJ: Monochrome deals heavily with depression and postpartum depression (PPD) in particular. Why did you choose these topics in your story?
H.M.: I’m a woman with a bi-polar mood disorder, so depression is something I know all too well. I had severe PPD with my first child and have struggled with depression my entire life. But I’m also a fantasy reader/writer and a geek. So when people started asking me about my depression, I immediately wanted to describe it as another world: an ugly, unforgiving, sensually unvarying world. I wanted to make depression real for those who don’t understand it. And I wanted those who do suffer from depression to see the other side: the beautiful parts of their lives that are worth fighting for.
DJ: When I read your short story, The Light Storm of 2015 (my review), what stood out most to me was the emotional connection that I had to the main character, and the story and its message. Once again, in Monochrome, I felt that the emotions were its greatest strength. Why do you think these connections that readers have to the story and it’s characters are so important, and how you are so effective at it?
H.M.: I’ve always been a very empathetic person. When other people were sad, happy or angry, I could feel their emotions as if they were mine, even as a little kid. I’ve always been fascinated by people’s actions, beliefs and decisions. It amazes me that two people can have similar life experiences, but take such different paths. Empathy is so important: it creates understanding where there could be conflict. My favorite authors create characters I believe in, whether I am like them or not. I hope to do that for my readers, so they can experience worlds outside of their experience.
DJ: Speaking of building up sympathy for characters, my favorite part of Monochrome was using memories as currency and how they came in different colors. Could you tell our readers how this system works?
H.M.: Thank-you. I hear that a lot about this book. So many readers like the memory exchange. I actually think it may be my favorite part because it imbues an otherwise dark story with beautiful snapshots. The memories as currency came from my experience with depression. You don’t remember always remember the good in life, when you’re depressed. So I decided that, in Monochrome, people would have to pay for the things they needed with their good memories. It is akin to not being able to recall the beauty in life, since once a person gives a memory up they can no longer remember it. The memories range from pink, purple, blue, yellow and gold, with gold being the most significant. For me, it was trying to create a physical color representation for joy. Pink is a fun color, but I don’t take it too seriously. So that’s the color of a light-hearted, fun memory. Gold is a heavy color, vibrant and weighty. It made sense to me that that color would surround the most important memories, those that were life changing.
DJ: Have you been reading anything good lately?
H.M.: I am constantly reading awesome books. People who want to write good books need to read good books. Jackaby and Beastly Bones by William Ritter, Hold me Closer, Necromancer and Necromancing the Stone by Lish McBride, The Time Traveler’s Almanac, The Anonymous Source by A.C. Fuller and The House on Sunset Street by Lindsey Fischer are the books I just finished that I loved. All of them are different genres, but they are all wonderfully written.
DJ: Now that Monochrome is out, what is next for you?
H.M.: I’m working on a YA Dystopian/Sci-Fi novel right now called Al Ravien’s Night. I am excited to say that I’ve been approached by a couple publishers who are interested in the concept—a young man who lives and works with an underground society in a future world ruled by a dictator-like clone, who happens to be his father. I’ve also been talking with Jeffrey Veregee, a Native artist and total comic geek, who is interested in helping me with graphics for the book. It’s a very exciting project and it’s coming along nicely. I get asked a lot if I’ll revisit the Monochrome world, and I might. It’s a hard world to live in, though, so I’m taking a bit of a break.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/H-M-Jones/e/B00HV5SQBM
Blog: http://www.hmjones.net/thinking-of-writing-writing-is-thinking and https://monochromebook.wordpress.com/
DJ: Is there anything else you would like add?
H.M.: Nopes. This about covers me. Thanks for your honest reviews and your wonderful site, DJ.
DJ: You are welcome, H.M. 🙂 And thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
MONOCHROME is on sale now!!!
About the Book:
What would you do to save your most precious memories?
That’s the question that Abigail Bennet, a new mother, must answer in this dark fantasy.
The cries of her new baby throw Abigail into rage and desperation. Frightened by foreign anger and overwhelming depression, the first-time mother decides to end her life to spare the life of her only child. But before she acts on her dark intuition, she is overcome by a panic attack and blacks out.
When she awakes, everything is blue: the trees, the grass, the rocks and still, scentless sky above her. Everything except the face of the man who stands over her. He is Ishmael Dubois and claims to be her Guide through the dangerous world of Monochrome, a physical manifestation of the depressed mind. But in a place where good memories are currency, nightmares walk, and hopeless people are hired to bring down those who still have the will to live, Abigail starts to wonder if she’ll ever make it back to her family. Despite her growing feelings for her handsome, mysterious Guide, Abigail must fight for the life she once wished to take or fade into the blue.
H.M. Jones is the B.R.A.G. Medallion honoree of Monochrome, now published by Booktrope’s Gravity Imprint. She has also written the Attempting to Define poetry collection, and is a contributing author to Masters of Time: A Sci-Fi and Fantasy Time Travel Anthology. A best seller only in her mind, Jones pay the electric bill by teaching English courses at Northwest Indian College. She moderates Elite Indie Reads, is the tired mother of two preschoolers, and in her “spare” time weaves, pulls with the Port Gamble S’Klallam Canoe Family, and attempts to deserve her handsome husband, whose lawyering helps pay the rest of the bills. You can find H.M. Jones on Facebook, Twitter (@HMJonesWrites), and her website and blog http://www.hmjones.net.